The prospect of the richest fight ever? It has been KO'd—by bad blood, rooted stubbornness and planet-sized egos.
Over the last month the camps of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have verbally pounded each other. But last week the world's two most accomplished pugilists chose to walk rather than fight, ending negotiations for their highly anticipated bout projected for March 13 in Las Vegas—and leaving $35 million apiece on the table.
At issue is drug testing. The Nevada Athletic Commission requires fighters to submit to urine testing before and after a fight. But Mayweather—whose father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., has accused Pacquiao of using performance-enhancing drugs—asked for random blood testing, to be performed by the USADA. (This despite the fact that the Nevada commission does not require blood tests for doping.) Pacquiao first countered by offering to submit to blood tests up to 30 days before the fight, then acceded to a 24-day cutoff, but Mayweather would stop testing only at the 14-day mark. "Pacquiao is furious," says his promoter, Bob Arum. "These McCarthy tactics have really smeared him."
Both fighters will move on—Pacquiao will defend his WBO welterweight title against Joshua Clottey at Cowboys Stadium on March 13; Mayweather also will return to the ring on that date, in Las Vegas. But boxing is in for a rough patch. Top Rank, which promotes Pacquiao, and Golden Boy, which represents Mayweather, are the sport's most powerful companies. A dispute in 2006 over who would promote Pacquiao led to a cold war between the sides that lasted for more than a year. Now, says one industry insider, "the next cold war isn't coming. It's here."
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer says Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez—two potential opponents—would want Pacquiao to submit to blood tests before agreeing to a fight. Arum says Pacquiao will never submit to any blood tests and took a shot at Schaefer, telling SI that if Mayweather wants to reopen negotiations he "should bring a real promoter to the table."
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY STEPHEN SKALOCKY: DAVID BECKER/ZUMA PRESS (MAYWEATHER); STARLITEPICS/ABACUSA.COM (PACQUIAO)
IT'S GETTING GOOFY Pacquiao (right) refused to be muscled by Mayweather's pointed demands.